When you think of college golf, you think of both teams and individuals competing for a title or in this case, a national championship.
Having qualified through the regionals, on May 28-31, six individuals will enter the NCAA Championship without their respective teams in Atlanta. They will play in the 54-hole tournament for an individual national championship.
These players earned their way into the national championship by finishing as the low player (not on an advancing team) at each of the six regional sites.
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Rodolfo Cazaubon, North Texas, Senior
Rodolfo Cazaubon carried the load for his team, finishing in sixth place overall at the Pullman Regional at 7 under. Cazaubon is the highest ranked individual to advance to the NCAA Championship at No. 41 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings.
No other North Texas player finished above 49th after Cazaubon. The Mexico native earned the chance to advance after carding a 4-under 68 in the first- and final-rounds of the tournament. He picked up four birdies on the back nine of the Palouse Ridge Golf Course in his final round.
Cazaubon is the first North Texas golfer to play for a national title under the current regional format.
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Mario Clemens, SMU, Senior
Mario Clemens held onto the lead entering the final round in Fayetteville, Ark., to secure medalist honors and earn a trip to play for a national championship. Clemens finished at 3 under for the tournament, thanks in part to his regional-best 38 pars.
Clemens, ranked No. 95 by Golfweek, carded back-to-back 2-under 70s to start the tournament, and capped off his performance with a 1-over 73. Clemens was one of only five golfers to finish the tournament under par at the difficult Blessings Golf Club.
“I’m so proud of Mario, it’s an incredible win for him,” coach Josh Gregory said. “Now, he gets a chance to play for a national championship.”
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Tyler Klava, South Alabama, Sophomore
In the Baton Rouge Regional, Tyler Klava won a one-hole playoff against Georgia State’s Jonathan Grey to advance to the NCAA Championship. Klava and Grey tied at 2-over 218 after 54 holes.
The twosome replayed the 18th hole at the University Club to decide a winner. Klava got to the green in two, and two-putted from 70 feet, while Grey made a bogey.
This is the first time a Jag will advance to the NCAA Championship since 2003 and the sixth individual in school history to qualify for event.
“It’s a little bittersweet right now, obviously I’d love for the whole team to be going but I am excited and hoping to represent the university as well as I can,” said Klava, who is No. 243 in the Golfweek Rankings.
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Dustin Korte, Austin Peay State, Senior
Dustin Korte cooled off after shooting a 6-under 64 in his first round at Karsten Golf Course in Tempe, Ariz. But he managed to finish in sole possession of eighth place at 6-under 204, earning a trip to the national championship in the process.
Korte is the highest ranked player from the Golfweek Rankings to advance at No. 244. He played a bogey-free round on day one of the tournament, knocking down four birdies total and an eagle on the 527-yard, par-5 14th hole.
“He just played real solid golf all week long. He deals with adversity well and responds well to bad things. He putted well and hit the ball super all week,” said head coach Kirk Kayden.
Korte is the first player from Austin Peay State to play for a national title under the current regional format, and is the first player to do so from the Ohio Valley Conference since 2006.
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Denny McCarthy, Virginia, Sophomore
Denny McCarthy shot a tournament-best 5-under 66 in the final round at the Ohio State University Course to finish T-2 at the Columbus Regional. He finished the tournament at 1-over 214 to advance to the NCAA Championship at The Capital City Club.
“It was probably the best round of his two years at Virginia,” said UVA coach Bowen Sargent on McCarthy’s final round. “This was one of those days where we really needed him to step up if we were going to have a chance to advance and he did it. It’s impressive to watch someone come through with that type of effort when we needed it the most.”
The Rockville, Md., native is No. 87 in the Golfweek Rankings.
McCarthy won the Cavaliers’ season opener at the Northern Open. He holds the teams lowest scoring average on the season with a 72.59.
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Daniel Walker, Richmond, Senior
Daniel Walker tied for second at the Tallahassee Regional, three shots back of medalist of Washington’s Cheng-Tsung Pan, at 12-under 204.
Walker, a native of Earlysville, Va., shot a 3-under 69 in the final round. A final round that consisted of three consecutive birdies on Nos. 13, 14 and 15. His other first- and second-round scores were 68-67.
“It’s hard to explain how difficult it is for an individual to advance to the NCAA Finals. Daniel played three of the best rounds of golf in school history,” Richmond head coach Adam Decker said.
No. 176 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, Walker has five top-10 finishes in eight events this season.
– Golfweek correspondent Andy Zunz contributed to this story